Local Face: Danielle Miles

  |  Published: May 5th 2012

Danielle Miles was born in the Royal Bucks Hospital, Aylesbury on 15 October 1985.  She attended John Hampden First, Wendover C of E Middle (as they were then) and John Colet Upper Schools. 

As a school child Danielle was always busy with extra curricular activities such as playing the viola or in school and county netball teams.  She also studied tap and modern dance at the Rozelle School of Dance and Drama taking weekly classes and performing in their annual show, often at the Civic Centre in Aylesbury. 

When very young, Danielle was always interested in jobs that ended in ist: geologist, zoologist, and so on.  She chose to study chemistry because it is often seen as the middle science, touching maths, physics, biology, pharmacology and much more. It would let her keep most options open.  She started a chemistry BSc course at Exeter in September 2004.  She was getting a first for all her coursework and having the best year of her life. Then in November 2004 they were told that Exeter University was intending to shut down the expensive Chemistry department. Danielle was incredulous: how could a ‘good’ university not have a core department?

Danielle helped to organise a 2000-strong protest against the closures, and gave evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry, ‘Strategic Science Provision in English Universities’ but the department closed so  she decided to transfer to Leeds where she began in her second year on an integrated 4 year masters course with a year in industry, which was carried out at AstraZeneca in Charnwood, Loughborough. After getting a first for her MChem she decided to stay on for a PhD.

Danielle’s PhD has been  designing a protein like gel to treat back pain. The main aim of her project was to develop a peptide (small protein) gel that can be injected into the disc.  This work provides the necessary understanding of the gels to enable them to be optimised for the treatment of disc degeneration. The findings also open up a number of other applications for these exciting new materials.

During her PhD she was invited to give numerous academic talks and public lectures and in 2010 won the University of Leeds Postgraduate researcher of the year award and in 2011 was awarded the Faculty for Maths and Physical Sciences researcher of the year as well as winning the Kate Furneaux prize for the most meritorious non-academic contribution to postgraduate life in the School of Chemistry 2011.

Danielle still manages to keep very busy in her spare time.  She has always enjoyed dance and currently teaches swing dancing as well as participating in advanced classes and going to social dances and camps all around the country.  She still rides her horse competitively at dressage, show jumping, cross country and for fun around the Yorkshire countryside as well as socialising with friends.

On top of this Danielle comes back to Wendover every now and then to help out at the Aces High exhibitions in Back  Street which is where she used to work, as well as to catch up with friends and family.

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